BJP hijacks Nagpur edition of Maratha Kranti Morcha in legislature and on the streets

Nagpur: The final battle for Maratha reservation has begun and political parties are keen to cash in on it. This is the first time the BJP is taking credit for the uprising in the state legislature and on streets. In preparation of the Nagpur Maratha Kranti Morcha — scheduled for 14 December, the BJP has already begun planning. In the Winter Session, the BJP MLA and city party president Ashish Shelar began the discussion and many MLAs across party lines discussed the issue. Like Shelar, BJP council member Pravin Darekar also took the lead in the Upper House.

Of the 288 MLAs in the Assembly, 140 are from the Maratha community, and of the 12 crore people the live in Maharashtra, 35 percent are Marathas. The Maratha Kranti Morchas have been noted across the country for their discipline, cleanliness and non-violent approach.

Both MLAs are considered close to Devendra Fadnavis and the chief minister later assured the Assembly that the BJP government is committed to providing reservation for the Maratha community. Normally, the discussion is started by Opposition parties, but in a rare occurrence, it was the ruling BJP that expressed its keenness to start the Maratha Kranti Morcha discussion.

And that's not all. In order to ensure the success of the morcha top BJP leaders from Delhi are also supporting their counterparts from Mumbai, Nashik, Pune and Aurangabad. To this effect, Shelar requested Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu for a special train from Mumbai. And Prabhu almost immediately green-lit the proposal for a special train to take people from Nashik and Mumbai to Nagpur for the morcha.

 BJP hijacks Nagpur edition of Maratha Kranti Morcha in legislature and on the streets

Representational image. PTI

BJP MLA from Katol Aashish Deshmukh has also been busy organising the Maratha Kranti Morcha meeting, and sources said that Fadnavis asked him to take the lead in organising meetings of Maratha community MLAs. However, the meeting had a very poor response, despite, as a senior police official told Firstpost, Fadnavis keeping a close eye on the morcha and ordering the administration to arrange for all sorts of help.

Over the past four months, more than 40 Maratha Kranti Morchas have been held across the state, with several lakhs taking to the streets. But in Nagpur, the name of the demonstration has been slightly modified due to the relatviely smaller numbers of Marathas in Nagpur and the Vidarbha region. Consequently, the morcha will be referred to as the Kunbi Maratha Kranti Morcha.

The Maratha morchas kicked off in Aurangabad on 9 August. However, if the community's demands are not met in the wake of the 14 December march, the community is planning a maha morcha in Mumbai in the new year, a Mumbai Morcha organiser told Firstpost. Lakhs of people are expected to take to the streets to ask the government why their demands have yet to be met. Over three crore members of the Maratha community have been on the streets for the past four months.

In preparation for the Nagpur event, organisers held a motorcycle rally in Nagpur on Sunday. As in earlier bike rallies, over 500 bikers wore black clothes and saffron caps. The organisers finalised the strategy for Wednesday march at Science College, Congress Nagar in the city.

Speaking to Firstpost, the Maratha leader Rajendra Kondhare said that the percentage of the Maratha Community in the Nagpur and Vidarbha region is barely 15 to 20 percent. But in this region, the Kunbi factor and presence is more important. "They make up more than 80 percent of the population  more than 80 percent, so we used their name first and called it the Sakal Kunbi Maratha Silent Morcha. Other communities like OBCs and Muslims have also supported this morcha. This is because the Kunbi community is also backward and has been fighting for its rights for many years."

"A small percentage of the Kunbi community receives the benefits availed of by the Other Backward Classes (OBC), but most people don't receive reservation. More than 90 percent of the Maratha community is socially and educationally backward. So the natural demand of the community is reservation in education and employment," said Kondhare.

"Most farmers who committed suicide belong to the Maratha community and the division of their land into small pieces exacerbates their condition," said Kondhare, adding, "Due to the lack of reservation, unemployment becomes a major problem for the community. The next date for the hearing of the issue of Maratha reservation in court in February 2017." If there is no sign of reservation for the community by that point, the Maratha Morcha will descend on Mumbai, he added.

According to local organiser Dilip Khodke, "Most of the people coming for the morcha are doing so from across the state, so we booked two special trains from Mumbai and Nashik. Lakhs of supporters are coming on other trains. So the crowds will gather first at Ajni and Nagpur railway station." A heavy police deployment, including those from the CRPF, has been planned for the station.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha is the biggest morcha to ever march to the Nagpur Assembly. To ensure the success of the morcha, more than 20 big halls were booked by the organisers and tea, coffee and snacks will be available at various spots. Many supporters have already arrived, with the rest set to arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday," said Khodke, adding, "We will be using around 20 big grounds for vehicular parking, and will be assisted by more than 3,000 volunteers."

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2016 12:25:09 IST